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Sunday, July 31, 2016

10 Days of Homeschooling with Diabetes - part 5 Family learning ideas

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Catch up on previous posts:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

My children are like night and day so their natural inclination is to fight like cats and dogs. Obviously it is not our goal as parents to promote bad behavior! Our goal is to mold their character to the image of Christ, not to the image of self. They won't always live under our roof, and they won't always like the other people who live around them, so what better way to learn to "live peaceably with all men" than learning to work together at home.

We actually own three or four desks or tables where our boys can work independently without having to share their space with a sibling, but having two toddlers often makes that impossible.  Someone is always looking to steal your crayons!

With my diabetes I have limited energy during the day so we need to maximize our learning time and keep the interruptions down to a minimum.  We do that by combing some subjects and working together as a family.

So far we have only worked together on Science Unit studies.  Even though we live in the mountains of Peru the boys were obsessed with studying the ocean. We bought a few notebooks, looked up some ocean facts, read some books together, cut and glued, ooh-ed and aah-ed and basically made a huge mess at the dining room table. But to see those huge grins on their faces, and hear them eagerly sharing all of the new things they learned with their father was priceless.

What kind of things do we learn working together?

  • How to wait patiently for instruction on how to do their assignment.
  • How to share and take turns using school supplies.
  • How to listen when someone else is speaking instead of talking over them.
  • How to praise others instead of criticize.
  • How to be kind and loving when others are not.
The list goes on and on. Character building, social skills,'s not always pretty, but we're working on it!  The Princess is also there, adding her "two cents", asking the boys to please pass the crayons, and doing her own "school". 

This year we plan to incorporate group learning for Bible, Memory Work, Singing, Music, Art, Geography, Science, and P.E.  Basically we will only divide for Language Arts and Math!  Imagine how much time this mama saves by teaching our family as...well, as a family!

What tips do you have for working together with your kids?

Be blessed!


Saturday, July 30, 2016

10 Days of Homeschooling with Diabetes - part 4 Keep it simple Sweetheart!

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If  you are just joining in don't forget to read the other posts in this series:
Part 1 - Daily routines
Part 2 - Teacher guilt
Part 3 - Learning styles

K.I.S.S. - Keep it Simple Sweetheart!
I have slightly modified this acronym in order to express what I have learned over this last year of homeschooling with diabetes. In 2015, aside from having diabetes I also gave birth to our 4th child. While recovering from the birth we took a month off from school and tried several different activities, schedules, methods, etc., to see what would work best for us.

My Bookworm was in first grade and Hotwheels was in preschool.  After spending hours and hours and HOURS devising elaborate lesson plans we found that what we enjoyed best was sitting around reading living books and putting together notebooks based on what we were learning.
Learning about spiders

Sometimes the temptation is strong to buy every new fad that comes along, but really a ton of curriculum is not necessary. This year we are taking our own advice and are reducing the large pile of books down to a few simple items.  Three notebooks (language, history, and science) and two folders (daily work and morning time).  Our schedule will also be simplified this year.  No more hourly divisions or 15 minute increments of stressful time keeping. Only short lessons, family learning, and a focus on the things that matter most.

Here is our simplified schedule:
I will explain more about what we will do in each section of our schedule in another post, but the basic breakdown is -
Morning Time - Singing, Memory Work, Bible, Prayer, Drill
Time with Mom - subjects that need instruction from me will be taught during this time
Independent time - while I work with one child the other will do some seatwork and computer activities
Exploration Time - when we will tackle Art, Music, Science unit, Geography maps skills, and P.E.

This is a very, very, very SIMPLE SCHEDULE, but one that we needed desperately.  Keeping fatigue at bay and babies out of trouble while preparing lunch and keeping the house from burning down around me made this kind of schedule a life-saver!

On Monday we are starting 2nd grade and K5 with this newly tweaked schedule.  I still need to finish organizing some math manipulatives but here are some great resources on scheduling:

  • Sarah Mackenzie writes about simplifying your schedule here and your curriculum here.
  • Pam Barnhill also has lots of excellent planning resources on her blog.
However, don't be like me and waste a lot of your time reading about planning and very little of it in actual planning!  Procrastination is not a positive character trait! 

Plan well. 

Keep It Simple Sweetheart!

Be blessed!


Friday, July 29, 2016

10 Days of Homeschooling with Diabetes - part 3 Learning styles

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Part 2 - teacher guilt
Ahh...diabetes. The daily struggle is real.  I thank God for my wonderful, caring, helpful husband. Without his understanding love we could not do what we do!

We have a seven year old son, a five year old son. a two year old daughter, and a one year old son.  Who wouldn't be tired at the end of every day?  The oldest two are what I like to call fire balls!  My seven year old Bookworm and my five year old Hotwheels can create a whirlwind of chaos in a heartbeat! And whatever they do the Princess must copy.
Spideys vs. the princess

Even though my Bookworm loves books he pretty much hates workbooks. And Mr. Hotwheels who spends his life revving up will sit down with a workbook and delare, "I'm going to do this whole book today!"  What a difference!

In the last post I talked about teacher guilt. The teacher in me wanted Bookworm to do every...single...lesson in his workbook.  And thus the battle began!  He has a super memory.  He can read his entire grade level reader (100+ pages) in one sitting and then accurately answer questions about every story.  But ask him to repeat the same math problem because he made a mistake and he has a total meltdown. Enter LEARNING STYLES!

Not every child learns the same way. My Bookworm will only sit still a book!  And boy does he soak up information like a sponge. But often when he is learning something rote in nature (spelling, math facts) he needs it to be hands on!

By combining his activeness and his learning style I was able to teach him in a way that he loved. Isn't that part of the beauty of homeschooling?

My energy is limited so I cannot waste time fighting with my child just because I like learning a different way than he does.
Practicing spelling
One simple example was spelling time. Of course he could read the words inside, outside, and upside down, but he saw no need to sit there and repeat the letters over and over.  So we took it to the carpet!  He used letter tiles and trains to spell his words and then chuffed them over to the train depot.  There were no melt downs and no complaints. It was a beautiful day!

My tip for today? Discover your child's learning style! It may be very different from your own, but if your goal is for him to reach his potential, teach him the way he learns best.

By the way...we didn't ditch the curriculum just because he complained.  I evaluated his learning style and adjusted the way I was teaching to best meet his needs.

Be blessed!


Thursday, July 28, 2016

10 Days of Homeschooling with Diabetes - part 2 teacher guilt

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Teacher Guilt...Mommy Guilt...Guilt, guilt. 
No matter what you call it, when you teach your own children guilt will sometimes rear its ugly head.  

Personally, my guilt arose from not being able to do everything that I wanted to do (or planned to do with my children.)

As I mentioned before, I have diabetes. Before I had children I taught in a Christian school on the mission field. I continued teaching off and on until my third child was born.

With my eldest son, I taught K5 and first grade while he was in the K4 class next door.  We live in the Spanish speaking country of Peru so he was in an all Spanish-speaking class.  He is one smart cookie so he already knew all of the preschool concepts that were being taught but he knew very little Spanish so he was constantly frustrated.  His personality is also a little like Pacman after eating a power pellet so you can imagine what that was like in a classroom setting! 

Being overly zealous I tried to homeschool him in English when we came home in the afternoons. MAJOR FAIL! After having a stressful day at school the last thing he wanted to do was more work!
A school recital with my son on the left.

I felt horrible that I couldn't teach him the way I wanted to and that he wasn't really enjoying learning.  Enter TEACHER GUILT!

At other times, it has come as a result of not completing a curriculum or not living up to the wondrous blog posts of the homeschooling community.

I left teaching after the birth of my third child because physically I couldn't handle the stress and strain on my body that teaching all day (and grading all night) brings.  Then I turned right around and tried to teach that same way in my home.  EPIC FAIL! 

Why? Duh? My body cannot handle the physical stress and strain and when the going gets tough this diabetic body stops going.  And it used to make me feel so guilty, until...

One day I realized that God did not call me to be "super teacher". He called me to educate my children so that they can read His Word, and know Him and love Him. I had to teach them the best that I could within my own physical abilities.  The light bulb lit up inside and the dark cloud of guilt vanished.

So what is my tip? Get your eyes off of other people's homeschool goals and make your own, WITHIN YOUR MEANS, and teach your children to the best of your ability and be satisfied with that.

One of my favorite guilt busters is Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Another is Philippians 3:14, "I press toward the mark for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Keep your eyes on the prize!

Be blessed!


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

10 Days of Homeschooling with Diabetes - part 1 Daily routines

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Life with diabetes can be a daily struggle.  Every day I am either kind-of tired, tired, really tired, or flat out exhausted.  Over my 12 years with diabetes I have learned that there are things that I can do and things that I can not do. Follow along as I share some time saving tips for homeschooling with diabetes.

First up are DAILY ROUTINES!
Having diabetes requires daily maintenance.  I have had diabetes for 12 years and during that time I have had four children!  Keeping track of them and keeping track of my medication can be a daunting challenge. Sometimes diabetes can affect your short term memory and having four kids definitely does. Without a consistent routine I often forget what medicine I took or when I took it! Obviously this is not helpful.

What does this have to do with homeschool you ask? Routines are also important to make your day run smoothly. For a long time I was forgetting to take my medication or check my blood sugar in the mornings because I was constantly reprimanding my older children about things we do every day.  Things you do every day should become routine!  When I realized this I knew I needed to come up with a way to help them get their tasks done without forgetting my own.  Enter the Chart.

For my two older sons I made a list of things that they needed to do each day. Then I had them choose their own clip art and made "everlasting stickers" for them by attaching the circles to cardboard and laminating them. Then I attached velcro to the chart and to the stickers. Every school day before we begin we work our charts. Even my two year old can name the different activities on her chart and we do them together.  

This is a great help to me because it is one less thing that I have to micro-manage and I am able to save my energy for more important things like making breakfast! 

I will detail how I made the charts in a future post. Stay tuned for my next post in the series "10 Days of Homeschooling with Diabetes".

Be blessed,